A new organization led by an outspoken Republican assemblyman and the state’s largest gun-rights group will aim to boost competition at New York’s election booths, organizers said Wednesday.
The “Freedom Coalition” formally launched this week, and will operate with the goal of enrolling enough new voters to make New York’s elections more competitive, said Assemblyman Bill Nojay, R-Pittsford, Monroe County.
Nojay, a freshman lawmaker, is leading the effort with Tom King, president of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association. Both have been outspoken critics of the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, a slate of tougher new gun laws pushed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in January.
“For the past 12 years, we’ve been on the defense, and we have finally said, ‘That’s it,’” King said at a news conference near the state Capitol Wednesday. “We’re finally going to do something offensive, and we’re going to make our voices heard.”
The group is organizing a large country music concert in suburban Albany on Aug. 24, which they are calling “New York’s Freedompalooza.”
The $35 concert will act as the group’s first major fundraiser and will feature “some of country music’s top performers,” though none have been announced yet, organizers said. The event is being produced by David Sieling, a Rochester resident who books concerts in western New York.
Organizers repeatedly stressed that the group — a 501(c)(3) organization, which prohibits it from supporting candidates — was not out to push a specific political viewpoint, though most participants come from the conservative end of the political spectrum. They delivered remarks in front of a “Freedompalooza” banner that prominently featured a reference to the Second Amendment.
Senate Republicans, who Nojay and King have clashed with over the new gun laws, took issue with the new group, which they said is meant to knock their members out of office.
The GOP shares control of the Senate with a pack of Democrats, and Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, was among those who voted for the SAFE Act.
“We wonder if Bill Nojay understands that by working against Republicans he will only serve to help the Democratic Party and its candidates, including sex trafficker Eliot Spitzer, serial molester Vito Lopez and disgraced former exhibitionist Congressman Anthony Weiner,” Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif said in a statement.
Here’s Nojay discussing the effort: